New book on the Maltese Vittoriesi
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New book on the Maltese Vittoriesi

A new book by Arnold Cassola uncovers the names of over 300 Maltese who were buried in Vittoria, Sicily, and its neighbouring seaside town, Scoglitti, during the course of two centuries, from 1628 till 1846. 

The book, which is  based on research work at the Parochial Archives of Vittoria was re­cently published in collaboration with Salvatore Palmeri di Villalba. Most of these Maltese migrated to Vittoria and Scoglitti, either permanently or temporarily, for economic reasons, since work opportunities – especially among the trading or fishing communities – were easier to find in those towns.

From the data gathered, one can conclude that, at least until mid-19th century, migration from Malta was still quite common and, although having been integrated for years in the daily life of Vittoria, the Maltese community did not renounce its original ‘Maltese’ identity.

Even if Vittoriesi by birth or adoption, the Maltese did not divest themselves completely of their ‘Malteseness’, which distinguished them from the other Sicilians with whom they shared their daily lives.  

One story recounts the life of Marietta Bonello who, on November 8, 1610, received the Grand Master’s licence (patente) to be able to travel to Santa Croce Camerina, in Sicily, with her four siblings. The same licence was granted to Imperia Camilleri, together with her son Michele. What was pushing these two women to go to Santa Croce with their respective children?

Probably, the book reveals, this was a case of family reunification: the wives and children were travelling to Sicily to join their respective husbands and fathers, who could have been among the first inhabitants of the newly established town of Vittoria, which had been founded by the noble­woman Vittoria Colonna as recently as 1607.

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